Exploring the Unique Morphological and Syntactic Features of Singlish (Singapore English)


  • Nourma Silvia Ningsih Institut Agama Islam Negeri Lhokseumawe
  • Fadhlur Rahman Institut Agama Islam Negeri Lhokseumawe




Singlish, Singapore English, Syntactic, Morphopological


Singapore is home to a number of significant ethnic groups, including Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, whose contributions have shaped the distinctive characteristics of Singlish in comparison to standard English. This study aims to examine the morphological and syntactic characteristics of Singlish, an English-based creole spoken in Singapore, emphasizing its impact on interethnic communication. Using comparative analysis, Singlish's morphological and syntactic characteristics were compared to those of standard English and the languages of the three largest ethnic groups in Singapore (Chinese, Malay, and Tamil). Examining grammatical patterns, word order, sentence structure, and the use of particular linguistic features would be required. The findings demonstrate that Singlish utilizes distinctive syntactic patterns that frequently incorporate Malay, Chinese, and Tamil grammatical formulas. Singlish, in contrast to standard English, lacks subject and object pronouns and frequently employs "sentence-ending particles" such as what, leh, lor, hah, and meh, in addition to lah. In addition, the copula be is frequently omitted before adjectives, nouns, and locatives in Singlish. In addition, the presence of word repetition and word drop in Singlish can be traced back to the Chinese dialect Hokkien. The Singaporean government has attempted to discourage the use of Singlish; however, this has sparked controversy due to the significance of the language in interethnic communication and its reflection of interethnic identity. As a result, Singlish is a fascinating subject for linguistic and sociological study, with significant implications for language education and policy.


Alsagoff, L. (2013). Singlish: A unique and dynamic English variety. In B. Leimgruber, C. Sappok, & W. Huber (Eds.), Singapore English: Structure, use and variation (pp. 1-22). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Ann, L. W. H. (2016). Singlish as style: Implications for language policy. In Managing diversity in Singapore: Policies and prospects (pp. 41-63).

Babcock, J. (2022). Postracial Policing,“Mother Tongue” Sourcing, and Images of Singlish Standard. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 32(2), 326-344. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jola.12354

Baratta, A., & Halenko, N. (2022). Attitudes toward regional British accents in EFL teaching: Student and teacher perspectives. Linguistics and Education, 67, 101018. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2022.101018

Burridge, K. (2007). Linguistic purism: the tug-of-love between standard and non-standard. Paper presented at the English is South East Asia: Challenges and Changes proceedings of the 11th English in South East Asia Conference.

Chelliah, S. L., & De Reuse, W. J. (2010). Handbook of descriptive linguistic fieldwork. Springer Science & Business Media.

Chew, P. G. L. (2017). Remaking Singapore: Language, culture, and identity in a globalized world. In Language policy, culture, and identity in Asian contexts (pp. 73-94). Routledge.

Chow, S. Y., & Bond, F. (2022). Singlish where got rules one? constructing a computational grammar for Singlish. In Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (pp. 5243-5250). https://aclanthology.org/2022.lrec-1.562

Deterding, D. (2007). Singapore English (Dialects of English). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Duchêne, A., Moyer, M., & Roberts, C. (Eds.). (2013). Language, migration and social inequalities: A critical sociolinguistic perspective on institutions and work (Vol. 2). Multilingual Matters.

Goh, R. B. (2016). The anatomy of Singlish: globalisation, multiculturalism and the construction of the ‘local’ in Singapore. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 37(8), 748-758.

Guan, K. C., Heng, D., Borschberg, P., & Yong, T. T. (2019). Seven hundred years: A history of Singapore. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd.

Kalaivanan, K., Sumartono, F., & Tan, Y. Y. (2021). The homogenization of ethnic differences in Singapore English? A consonantal production study. Language and Speech, 64(1), 123-140. DOI: 10.1177/0023830920925510

Kortmann, B. (2013). How powerful is geography as an explanatory factor in morphosyntactic variation? Areal features in the anglophone world. Space in language and linguistics: Geographical, interactional and cognitive perspectives, 165-194.

Kortmann, B. (2020). Syntactic variation in English: A global perspective. The handbook of English linguistics, 299-322.

Leimgruber, J. R. (2013). Singapore English: Structure, variation, and usage. Cambridge University Press.

Leimgruber, J. R., Lim, J. J., Gonzales, W. D. W., & Hiramoto, M. (2021). Ethnic and gender variation in the use of Colloquial Singapore English discourse particles. English Language & Linguistics, 25(3), 601-620. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1360674320000453

Lo, S. L., Cambria, E., Chiong, R., & Cornforth, D. (2016). A multilingual semi-supervised approach in deriving Singlish sentic patterns for polarity detection. Knowledge-Based Systems, 105, 236-247. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.knosys.2016.04.024

Nurmalia, L., Nuraeni, C., Purwaningrum, P. W., Nisa, B., & Yastanti, U. (2023). Check for updates Singlish Phenomenon-Code Switching Viewpoint. In Proceedings of the 20th AsiaTEFL-68th TEFLIN-5th iNELTAL Conference (ASIATEFL 2022) (Vol. 749, p. 358). Springer Nature.

Rahman, F., & Saputra, N. (2021). English as International Language Revisited: Implications on South Korea’s ELT Context. Scope: Journal of English Language Teaching, 6(1), 08-15. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.30998/scope.v6i1.9383

Rao, P. S. (2019). The role of English as a global language. Research Journal of English, 4(1), 65-79. https://www.rjoe.org.in/Files/vol4issue1/new/OK%20RJOE-Srinu%20sir(65-79).pdf

Sayer, P. (2018). Does English really open doors? Social class and English teaching in public primary schools in Mexico. System, 73, 58-70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.11.006

Starr, R. L., & Balasubramaniam, B. (2019). Variation and change in English/r/among Tamil Indian Singaporeans. World Englishes, 38(4), 630-643. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12357

Tan, Y. Y. (2017). Singlish: an illegitimate conception in Singapore's language policies?. European Journal of Language Policy, 9(1), 85-104.

Wei, L. (2020). Multilingual English users’ linguistic innovation. World Englishes, 39(2), 236-248. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12457

Wong, J. (2014). The Culture of Singapore English (Studies in English Language). Cambridge University Press.




How to Cite

Ningsih, N. S., & Rahman, F. (2023). Exploring the Unique Morphological and Syntactic Features of Singlish (Singapore English). Journal of English in Academic and Professional Communication, 9(2), 72–80. https://doi.org/10.25047/jeapco.v9i2.3933